The government has decided that Muslims from India will not travel to Saudi Arabia for Haj 2020 after the Kingdom has announced that pilgrims should not be dispatched this year after the coronavirus pandemic, said Minister for Minority Affairs Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi , on Tuesday.
The decision was made after Saudi Arabia's Haj and Umrah minister Mohammad Saleh bin Taher Benten called last night and suggested not sending pilgrims to Haj from India this year, he told reporters.
Saudi Arabia said on Monday that it had excluded international visitors from the Islamic pilgrimage to control the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Naqvi said that 2.13,000 applications for Haj 2020 had been received and that the process of reimbursing the entire amount paid by applicants without deduction had started immediately.
The money will be refunded via the online mode for direct transfer of benefits to applicants' bank accounts, said the Minister for Minority Affairs. This is the first time since independence that pilgrims from India will not travel to Haj due to the applicant's unprecedented situation.
More than 2,300 women had applied for the performance of Haj ohne mehram (male companion) this year, and now they are allowed to go for Haj in 2021 due to their application. In addition to them, more women who are applying for Haj without Mehram next year will also be supported, he said.
A total of 3,040 women performed Haj after the Narendra Modi government ensured in 2018 that Muslim women could do Haj without more, Naqvi said, adding that a total of 2 lakh Indian Muslims performed Haj in 2019, around 50 percent of whom were women.
In a statement, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Haj and Umrah said that due to the coronavirus pandemic and the risk of it spreading in crowded rooms and large gatherings, it was decided that Haj would be held this year, with a "very." limited numbers of "pilgrims of different nationalities who already live in Saudi Arabia could do this.
"This decision is made to ensure that Haj is carried out in a safe manner from a public health perspective, with all preventive measures and the necessary social distancing protocols followed," the statement said.
Mr. Naqvi said that because of the serious challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic and taking into account people's health and well-being, the Saudi government's decision decided that Muslims from India will not go to Saudi Arabia this year to carry out Haj.
The whole world is facing the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic, and Saudi Arabia is also affected.
Haj 2020 is proposed between late July and early August.
The Haj is one of the five pillars of Islam that every Muslim has to fulfill at least once in his life if he is healthy enough and has the means to do so.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)